Growing bulbs in your garden can create variety and color. Zone 8 encompasses the Western and Southern portions of the United States. Winters are generally mild with long summer growing seasons. In zone 8, where the average minimum temperature during the winter months is 10 to 20 degrees, once your bulbs are planted, they can usually remain in your garden ground year-round.
Spring Blooming Bulbs
Acquire your bulbs for spring blooming either locally or through mail order no later than late summer. Most spring blooming bulbs, like tulips, do better if the bulb experiences what is termed a chill period. Many areas of zone 8 do not naturally have cool temperatures long enough for spring blooming bulbs.
Place your bulbs in a refrigerator for six to eight weeks to simulate the chill period. Be sure there is no fruit, especially apples, in the refrigerator along with your bulbs. The ethylene gas these fruits emit can harm, and even kill, the bloom in the bulb.
Select a garden location that is appropriate for the bulbs you are planting. Most bulbs prefer a sunny location with well-draining soil.
Dig a hole with a hand trowel or bulb planter for individual bulb planting, or dig a trough with a shovel if you are planting a larger area with bulbs. The depth of your hole or trough should be appropriate for the particular bulb you are planting. As an example, daffodils should be planted at a depth of 6 to 8 inches, while crocus is planted 2 inches deep.
Place a handful of bone meal in the bottom of the hole, or a light layer of bone meal in the bottom of your trough. Bone meal is a natural food for bulbs. Place your bulb on top of the bone meal.
Fill the hole with your bulb with soil, gently tapping the soil down as you fill to close any air pockets that may have formed.
Summer Blooming Bulbs
Order your summer blooming bulbs in the fall to be delivered in early spring or purchase the bulbs locally in the spring.
Plant summer blooming bulbs in the same manner as you planted the spring bulbs. Summer blooming bulbs are more sensitive to soil temperature. Some bulbs, like iris, are hardier, tolerate cooler soils and can be planted from early November to early January in zone 8. Other summer blooming bulbs, such as dahlias, begonias and gladiolus need soil temperatures to be at least 65 degrees. These should be planted in mid to late spring.
Water your summer planted bulbs after planting to keep the soil moist, not soggy. Continue watering throughout the growing season.